The first time I noticed that I was having a panic attack I was sitting in one of my journalism classes. I couldn’t breathe. I felt my chest tightening and felt a bit woozy. Sort of like when I feel that I am about to throw up. Needless to say I ran out of there as fast as my legs could handle under the pressure. What led to my panic attack? A number of things, but it was mostly the feeling of not being wanted, of not being good enough that caused it. I feel the impact more when a memory decides to make an appearance; it tends to be a memory that causes some kind of emotional pain when I think about it.
Is that a good enough reason to induce a panic attack? I am not at liberty to say because a panic attack can happen for a million different reasons. The only thing I can definitely tell you is that it sucked ass having to feel like that in front of a million people. My class has a number of 10-12 people but when you’re in an uncomfortable situation any little thing can feel like the most monumental thing in the world.
They say that you don’t notice what is happening around you until it happens to you and no I am not talking about war, sickness or death. It’s like when you hear a song you don’t think you like but then hearing it over and over again you start singing it under your breath without realizing. Or a show that everyone is talking about and then you see an episode and understand what all the hype is about. That’s how it felt for me the first time I noticed what I was going through. The term was mental breakdown and I was the new one in town.
I saw it all over social media. On Facebook there were articles about “how to overcome it” and “this is what it did to me”. On Instagram there were images of depression and failed relationships. There was advice on how to handle it and why it could possibly be happening to “me”. Nothing related to me though. What I felt was different.
This is the best way I can explain how it feels to me when I have a panic/ anxiety attack—because I still get them, I am not over it. If you’ve watched the movie Breaking Dawn Part One, with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, then you can recall the scene where Bella is laying perfectly still in the table where she is transforming into a vampire. Can you picture her? She’s still, cold, lifeless, and dead. That’s how she looked on the outside and I can guarantee you that is not how I feel or look. I can move, am warm blooded, alive and living my life to the fullest. Now picture her in the inside.
She was yelling. She was screaming out the top of her lungs. She was going through so much pain that she couldn’t handle it. No one was hearing her. No one could hear her. If you hide your anxiety that’s exactly how it feels. Like you’re yelling and no one can hear you because only you know what you’re going through. That’s how it feels for me. Everyone chucks it up to stress and maybe they are right.
My belief is just because I have had/ still occasionally have panic attacks and mental breakdowns it does not mean that I need psychiatric help. I don’t need the kind of help that involves daily pills and doctors monitoring my every move. That doesn’t mean that everyone does but maybe someone does and that’s perfectly OK.
What I need is to remember is that it is normal to feel this every once in a while and to understand that this doesn’t/ shouldn’t affect how I live my life day to day. I need to remember that it doesn’t make me a weirdo and that as long as I feel like I am doing better that is all that matters. After all, no one knows me better than I do myself. There will be no doctor with their tests, no psychiatrist with their evaluation, not even my own mother, who gave birth to me, who will know what is best for me.
Sometimes I just need someone to talk to and a good cry fest to move on from the shit that is clouding my brain.
When will society understand that mental health is just as valuable as physical health? Just because you can’t physically see the damage that verbal or mental abuse can cause it doesn’t mean it’s any less important.
Because of that panic attack and the anxiety that led to it I seeked counseling at school. Woah! Talking about counseling can seem like a taboo subject but this is the 21st century, MOVE ON!!! Counseling helped. I was happy that I had someone that would listen to what I was going through. No matter how mundane it was. It didn’t feel forced and I didn’t feel like a charity case. She made me see that a lot of people go through it and the most important part was what I did to move on from it. She didn’t just brush it off. She made me see why I felt the way I felt.
My panic attacks/ anxieties are something that I am working on, on a daily basis. Some days are better than others but I remind myself that the worst is already behind me.